Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Dear Secure Computing: Screw You, Too.

A loyal reader reports that we’ve hit the big time, and Secure Computing’s censorware has banned us at their dozens of customers’ sites. Now, it’s their right to make software that prevents you from getting the best in security news and analysis, and my right to wonder how they get their heads up there.

I’m happy to be in fine company like BoingBoing, and sad that our readers are inconvenienced. If one of you would like to figure out how to get us unbanned, that would be swell, but I see no reason to jump through their hoops. Its not like our readership numbers dropped, a reader (who wants to remain anonymous) wrote to let me know he coudldn’t get through.

I have no interest in chasing Secure Computing down and begging their forgiveness or permission. Let companies cut us off, if that’s what they’d like. Compare and contrast a large mutual insurance company in Massachusetts who links us off their intranet page. (I’m guessing it’s for the breaches category?)

If you don’t want to help get us unbanned at the expensive list level, feel free to check out the “Boing Boing Guide to Evading Censorware.”

11 comments on "Dear Secure Computing: Screw You, Too."

  • Arthur says:

    Woot! I feel like we’ve made a rite of passage like we just had our bar mitzvah or something. Though I suppose given the situation that some of our readers are experiencing, maybe I should have said bris.

  • Chris says:

    to that, Arthur. And without the wine.

  • dan says:

    Ok, Adam the deal is that is categorized as “General News, Forum/Bulletin Boards”. This sounds accurate to me from looking around. The Smart Filter software blocks on these categories and gives network administrators the option to configure any web sties or categories they would like to allow or block. Don’t look at Secure Computing if your readers can’t get through have them complain to their network administrators. For those are the ones who make the conscious decision to block your site.

  • Adam says:

    Actually, Dan, I do look to Secure Computing. They’re the ones who 1) select sites arbitrarily and 2) categorize them such that administrators whack sites with a broad sledge hammer, rather than precision response.
    The reader who contacted me is in a position to know that his organization didn’t make a concious decision to block my site: you did.
    Actually, I should ask, are you speaking for your employer here?

  • Lyger says:

    For the record: is generally blocked by most commercial web filters since it is usually placed in the “hacking” catagory. In the last two weeks, we contacted a rather large web filter vendor to have the site reviewed and ask for a recatagorization. Know what? It worked. is now (more accurately) listed as
    “Computer/Internet Security” by that company.
    Re: comment regarding “For those are the ones who make the conscious decision to block your site.”: I see absolutely no valid business reason why any company would consciously add EC to their blocked sites. If any network admin has THAT much time on their hands, cutbacks should be in order. Clearly an invalid argument.
    Adam and/or Dan: Since EC generally does deal with security and privacy, is there a method that can be used to ask Secure Computing to recat the site? Web, phone, or other?

  • Chris says:

    So, CNN is categorized as “General News”, and is I presume not blocked by default. EC is “Gen. News, Forum/Bulletin Boards”. I conclude, therefore, that by default all Forum/Bulletin Board sites known to Secure Computing are blocked by default.
    That would seem excessive.
    For comparison, SurfControl is unaware of EC :^), and
    Websense categorizes it as “Message Boards and Clubs”.
    I do not know whether, out of the box, Websense blocks this category. I hope not, since I suspect the common deployment case would be one in which the customer would not want this.

  • Adam says:

    I don’t know. I haven’t contracted to perform QA on Secure Computing’s database. I have no idea what their categories are, or which ones we might fit into, nor do I care to.
    As I said, if someone would care to figure it out, great! As to our being a “message board or forum” it seems an odd description-I do wish we got more comments, but is anything with a comment link a forum?

  • dan says:

    I am just speaking as someone who has had to go through this process. I have included the link I used below to request a site evaluation and find out the category.

  • You would be amazed at some of the sites I have come across that SmartFilter blocks. SC SmartFilter “Categorizers” must be miserable having that job :O
    On another note, some companies need to get a grip on what categories they block users from browsing.

  • Mr. X says:

    My employer uses a default SmartFilter install.
    attrition: not blocked. emergentchaos: blocked.

  • Iang says:

    EC’s RDF feed at might be broken. Here’s what Firefox says, and Thunderbird no longer reads it:
    XML Parsing Error: not well-formed
    Line Number 59, Column 30:I find 3. hard to believe.

Comments are closed.